Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cam stars as Rangers blank Flyers 2-1

Cam! 

Wow – did we ever need that one!  The Rangers had a huge bounce back game tonight at Madison Square Garden – blanking their hated rivals the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 behind a tremendous performance by Cam Talbot in goal.  And he was all that was in the Ranger goal because no Flyer shots got past him.

The Rangers were just the better team tonight in downing a Philadelphia team that has not won a game on Ranger home ice since 2011.  The interesting thing is that Steve Mason, the Flyer goaltender – was amazing – collecting 32 saves – including several spectacular ones and was probably the best goaltender on the ice tonight.  Our heroes could have easy scored 4 or 5 goals tonight if not for Mason’s steady hand in the opposing net.
In the 5th minute of the first period, Derek Brassard did some great work keeping the puck alive behind the Flyer net.  Then Carl Hagelin took over – whipping the puck from behind the end line to Kevin Klein who was darting towards the net.  Klein, who leads Ranger defensemen in scoring, snapped the puck past Mason who never had a chance, to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead.

In the second, it was the Rangers on the powerplay that produced goal number two.  A great Stepan pass to Marty St. Louis – who had a great opportunity in close to Mason’s left.  But St. Louis, instead of shooting, zipped a perfect pass across the ice to Rick Nash – who had the puck on his stick and the entire net to shoot at.  Nash notched his 13th goal of the season and the Rangers had their two goal lead.

And it held up.  The Flyers kept mounting pressure in the third – but the Rangers defended well and Cam Talbot saved them all.

I also want to mention one of the several great sequences by St. Louis,  With a melee in front of the Ranger net – Marty slid in to the crease to cover for and out-of-position Talbot and then calmly sticked the puck out of the Ranger crease and out of danger. 
The win stopped the bleeding for a Ranger team that seemed to be reeling as of late.  And if Cam Talbot can keep this up it will be a huge advantage for the Rangers.  If you remember last year – it was Cam who got us through Hank’s slump and gave the King the rest he needs to be in top form come playoff time.

Did Special teams decide this game?  (Editor – are you asking me?) (Dave Pucks – no it’s a literary device – and also a recurring feature in the blog)  (Editor – like me?) (Dave Pucks – no – not like you – this device works).  Anyway – yes special teams decided this game.  The Ranger special teams got a goal on four attempts – and I’ve got to say Dan Boyle makes us looks so much more organized when we have the extra skater.  You can see him talking out there - and directing traffic as he tries to get his fellow Rangers in the right positions.  And as his hand heals and the rust fades – I think we’ll see even more from Boyle – good acquisition by Sather.  (Editor – isn’t this supposed to be about special teams?) (Dave Pucks – okay – I’ll get back to that).  On the Penalty Kill the Rangers were a perfect 4-4 and that was the difference tonight.

So a good game all around for our Rangers – who will face the Flyers 2 more times in the next 11 days.  It was great to rest Hank – it was great to get Cam the shutout – and it was great to win a hockey game – and in regulation no less.

Maybe this gets us started.  Pucks out.

Here come the Flyers

Well kids - we might not feel emotionally ready to play a hockey game - but here come the Flyers to take us on in Madison Square Garden tonight.

And just when you thought you were safe from ex-Rangers - here comes Michael Del Zotto to take on his former teammates.

The Flyers are always tough - in all meanings of that word.

So strap in - here it comes.

More later. Dave Pucks out.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lightning Strikes

Oh poop. I don't even know what to say about this one. If you want a positive – here it is: Madison Square Garden did a nice video tribute to Ryan Callahan – a classy move and one of the few positive moments for the Rangers all day.

One other positive – little old Marty St. Louis scored against his old teammates – briefly making the contest back into a one goal game.

But the rest was bad. 5 goals against – 2 by Ryan Callahan. A loss to Callahan and Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Our defense is still struggling. And it seems that if we don't score at least 3 goals this year – we don't have a chance.

The Rangers fall to 7-7-4. Let's hope this is rock bottom and it's up ice from here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Game Night: Rangers vs. Ex-Rangers

Tonight our beloved Red Pants take on the Tamps Bay Lightning – who come to Madison Square with a trio of ex-Rangers from last year's roster.

Let's start with Ryan Callahan – former Ranger Capitan with (literally) the capital C. Captain Cally always brought the intangibles – but he over-priced himself in the free agent market and ended up losing his home – and his original asking price. When the Rangers thrived without him – surging to the Stanley Cup finals in his absence – it put a new negative spin on all that came before. Out When Ryan – in came Marty St. Louis – and the Rangers were for all appearances better off. That said we will always have a place in our hockey hearts for the forward who always gave 100% (because 110% is not physically possible). It should be interesting to hear how the garden faithful react to his return in a Lightning uniform.

Brian Boyle – a big physical hustling forward who – if he could accurately shoot the puck – could have been a great player – but I guess that's true of almost everyone. We always liked big Brian – and who can ever forget that it was him that put the Rangers ahead of the Kings – if briefly – in game 5. If that lead had held up – we return to MSG for game 6 and… Don't get me started. It will be interesting to see Dan Boyle checking Brian Boyle – (Boyle on Boyle action!) if that in fact ever happens.

Anton Stralman blossomed into a top 4 defenseman here and is missed – particularly with the injuries and suspensions that has the Rangers playing with not one but two Hartford call up defensemen just a week ago. Anton was a big part of our success last year – but the Salary Cap is what it is and I think Glen Sather has managed it pretty intelligently this past year.

Put that all together and you get a very interesting homecoming tonight.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I hate the penguins (Rangers fall 4-3 in controversial Shootout loss)

Okay – there are lot of emotions to process here – but let me start by saying that I dislike the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

I hate them actually.  I hate Sidney Crosby.  I hate that Malkin is so much better than Crosby but never gets the credit for it.  And I just really hate the Penguins.  So this terrible won-then-lost reversal of fortune thing tonight really upsets me.  And if the Rangers finish one point out of the playoffs….

You know what.  That’s just too terrible to contemplate.  I have to set that one aside as best I can and plow ahead.

Okay – big picture.  We got three points to the Penguins two in the home and home.  They’re a really good and really hot team – so we should take that.

But crap – we nearly won it.  I mean – we were in the locker room taking off our skates when the refs pulled us back on the ice.  But let’s start at the beginning.
In the first, Blake Comeau’s shot hits Lundqvist but tragically trickles in.  But then – just 15 seconds later Lee Stempnicak jumps on a rebound and snaps it past Marc-Andre Fluerry in a flurry in front of the net to tie it (Editor – yes we see what you did there – but we don’t like it). 

Later in the first – with the Rangers on the Powerplay (a powerplay that looks more organized since Dan Boyle got back on the ice) Marty St. Louis directed in one of his classic tough angle shots for a 2-1 lead. 

And, oh, how we could have used one more goal. 

In the third – Evgeni Malkin – the Penguin’s best player – found a way past Lundqvist off a terrible defensive zone give-away by Dan Boyle.  Malkin hit the post – but the puck found 
Henrik’s back and then the back of the net.

And a few minutes later it was to Overtime we went.  And in the extra period Sidney Crosby got a breakaway that Hank stoned him on.  And then again – in the last 5 seconds – Hank stopped a Khris Letang breakaway to get us to the shootout.

And then things got just plain weird.  Stepan scored on the shoot out as did Crosby (that crybaby overrated rat).  Round three ended with Dan Boyle apparently beating Marc-Andre to end the game.  The Rangers celebrated.  In fact they left the ice and went to the locker room.  But there is that Bad Luck Boyle thing that we told you about just the other day.  And so here comes the boom: 

The Refs, damn them, called our heroes back on the ice.  What the replay shows is the puck hitting the post – then Boyle’s stick and then into the goal.  That was ruled a double-hit and the refs went into the dressing rooms to get the half-undressed players back out on the ice. 

For his part – Lundqvist was a stand-up guy about the whole thing:

Said Hank: "We came in here and I asked [Boyle about the goal] and when he explained it to me, I had a bad feeling we would have to go back out there."

So Lundqvist kept his pads on for a few minutes – trying to stay ready just in case.  And it turned out his worst fears were realized.  Hank said of the process:

"You want it to be right. If we were in that situation and found out it was the wrong call, you'd be very upset. … You have to be right."

So back out they went and the shootout resumed. And the Penguins ended up scoring and winning in round 4.

It’s a tragic tale of heartbreak and wasted opportunities.  But it’s also a point in the standings.  It’s a shame – but all we can do is take the point and move on.

And as bad as the shootout has been to us recently – remember that there is no shootout in the playoffs – so if there’s something we have to be bad at – let it be something they ain’t got in the playoffs. 

Assuming we get there and don’t finish one point short!  That’s it – now I won’t be able to sleep again tonight.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Game Night: Again With The Penguins?

Boys and girls you know the deal. Tonight our heroes take on a Penguins team that we defeated 5-0 two games ago. My expert analysis: they're mad and will try to beat us. Oh, and Crosby sucks. More after the game, Pucks out!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Rangers battle back - take lead - lose lead - and lose in OT to Avalanche

Oy – that 3-3 tying goal.  It’s haunting my dreams.

The Rangers had battled back from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to bring a 3-2 lead into the third period.  And then – 8 minutes in to the third - the powerplay shot from Nathan MacKinnon.  It came at Lundqvist low along the ice.  And Hank had his stick down and the blade caught the shot cleanly. 

Except….

Hank keeps his stick at and angle to the ice – so that hard shott will defelect up And over the net.  And also – I guess – because if you hold the stick out in front of you and press it to the ice – it’s at an angle,  So the puck hits Hank’s stick and pops up over it.  Still looking harmless. 

Except….

The puck is headed five-hole.  It’s going directly between The King’s legs.  Hank is hip to this as well and pulls the leg pads together.

Except…

The puck slips through – and crosses the goal line. 

Tie game.  Overtime.  And then the shootout.  And despite a shootout goal by the Derek Stepan – the Rangers lose the shootout 2-1, and the game 4-3.

So our heroes lose.  But at least they got a point for the regulation tie – their 6th overtime game in 16 contests.

No goals for Nasher tonight but he did get an assist.  Goals for Hayes – Stepan (plus his shoot out goal) and Girardi (the first for a Ranger defenseman not named Kevin Klein).

Additional assists by Moore, Stepan, Zuccarello, and Hunwick.  Hank’s save percentage was just under .900.  Tanner Glass did some general punching.  Dan Boyle returned - looked a bit rusty - but played better as the contest went on.   

Did Special teams decide this contest?  Yes, unfortunately.  Rangers were 0-3 on the powerplay while giving up the tying goal going 2-3 on the penalty kill. 

And I’ll mention that the Avalanche Goalie Varlamov has been a Ranger nemesis for years.  If you recall – back in April of 2009 we showed the following visual comparison (look to the left).  Old "Volde" may come up a bit short in the nasal department - but he's definitely less scary to Ranger fans than the other guy. 


Rough night in Ranger town.  But we keep on with the scoring.  I like that.  And the defense is gradually getting healthier – but we’ll be even better once our captain returns.  Dave Pucks Out - and thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Game Night: Boyle!

I can hear it now: Glen Sather: "We lost Bryan Boyle to free agency? I'm not going to just throw away all those Boyle jerseys. Get me another Boyle!"

And so - despite the departure or our old friend "hands of stone" (last seen giving us one last lead against the LA Kings in game 5) we one again have a Boyle on the Rangers.

I mention this because Dan Boyle the veteran (read that as "old") blue liner will finally - hopefully - be making his home debut in red pants tonight as the Rangers take on the Avalanche.

Dan broke his hand in the season road opener and has been sidelined ever since. And this, honestly, is just the latest in a long line of unlucky events that have followed Boyle throughout his career.

In 2004, Dan was playing in the Stanley Cup finals for John Tortorella's Tampa Bay Lightning when an electrical fire in Boyle's home caused $300,000 in property damage.

And worse, in 2007 a pair of skates fell off a wall in the locker room hitting Dan in the arm blade-first and severing three tendons. Ouch.

But - with all that - Boyle's name is etched on the Stanley Cup. So maybe that's the kind of luck we can use around here. Dave "lucky" Pucks out.




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